This or That? SpaceGhostPurrp vs. Joey Purp
Everything was looking up for SpaceGhostPurrp in 2012. Around 2011, he met A$AP Rocky and crew before moving to New York for a short time. Video footage of him freestyling with A$AP Ferg and A$AP Twelvvy followed, and soon Rocky released one of his best songs to date, 'Pretty Flacko,' produced by Purrp and initially meant for Rocky's debut album. Different sides of the story surrounding their relationship floated through the internet: some say A$AP Mob put a homeless Purrp up in their crib while he found his footing. The New York Times reported that Purrp was helping Rocky take care of his sister after the NY rapper's mother fell ill. Regardless, a scuffle eventually ensued between Twelvvy and a cousin of Purrp, severing ties between Purrp's Raider Klan and A$AP Mob. The two haven't worked together since.
It's a shame, because Rocky began coming into his own with beats from Clams Casino and SGP. Some contend it was SGP's sound that brought A$AP to the next level; compare his early sound on songs like 'Get High' to the darker stuff on his breakout 'Live.LoveA$AP' tape and you might agree. A dealbreaker to measure Purrp's potential influence on Rocky might be 'Toast To The Gods,' as it has that SGP sound but was never pinned to a recording period.
From there, SGP began producing for bigger rappers like Wiz Khalifa and Juicy J. His terrific 'Blackland Radio 66.6 (1991)' got a healthy remastering via 4AD, and although the new album was a bit underwhelming, it meant his career was going in the right direction
And then everything went awry. He started dropping music with a little more acceleration, making his projects a bit more unmanageable than before. He also stared changing his Twitter handle often, making it hard to follow. Most disturbing of all, his persona on Twitter began to seem almost bipolar. He'd fly into fits of nonsensical rage, then change his handle and leave no trace of his outburst. It seemed like the kid was going through a dark time.
Joey Purp doesn't have any of that drama in his life, at least not that kind. The Chicago rapper is a much better rapper than SpaceGhost -- like, leaps, bounds, and aerial backflips better. He's more straightforward than Chance The Rapper's borderline-annoying style and not quite as pop as what Vic Mensa seems to be leaning towards these days. That's the strength of the Save Money crew -- between Vic Spencer, Kami de Chukwu, and Joey Purp, even the guys with smaller profiles still rap their asses off.
If you want a comprehensive overview of Purp's best songs, the good dudes at Fakeshore Drive put together this 'Best Of' compilation last year with standouts like 'Tango In Paris' and 'Don't Stop.' If you want to comb through Joey's discography, though, start with 'The Purple Tape.' That debut tape clocks in at just under 23 minutes with ten songs, the perfect length for deciding whether you wanna rock with the kid. Straight from the intro, you can tell Purp is the kind of rapper who molds the beat to his words. Curren$y had this ability when he left Cash Money; it didn't really matter what beat he rapped over, because his voice was like another instrument that drowned out whatever else was going on, like a Coltrane solo. 50% of the tape is produced by III, making for a tight, cohesive listen, but Joey sounds like a rookie who hasn't pinpointed his own voice yet as he experiments with a little bit of everything.
His recent work shows he's only getting better, too. His verse on the remix to 'Father's Son' by Sterling Hayes is a drastic left turn, veering into a drill cadence that isn't what you expect from a Save Money kid. Yet he kills it. There's the gigantic 'Irie Trill Vibes,' where Purp flexes more adrenaline than Uma Thurman after the overdose, and 'World Turning' where he can flip the script for a smoker's anthem. A fire in his chest, a chameleon-like dexterity for adjusting to beats, and crystal clear mic technique make this kid a tripe threat. He might not blow up like Chance The Rapper, but he'll be better for it.
SpaceGhostPurrp has never been more than an average rapper. He'll tell you himself. His lyrics often belabor his desire to simply be an accessible, relatable rapper, not No. 1 or the best out. On one hand, it's refreshing to see someone step off the gerbil wheel in a hyper-masculine, competition-driven rat race like rap. On the other hand, a majority of SGP's rhymes end up sounding just plain lazy, uninspired, and sometimes boring. His appeal is in his beats, the atmosphere he conjures up on records (often akin to walking through a maze of dungeons on lean) and, at least early on, his hooks. His more recent music, like this years 'IntoXXXicated' project, have songs that barely differentiate from each other. If he's still paying close attention to detail in his production, it isn't showing, and his work is suffering for it.
But there is a silver lining. This past Tuesday, I woke up to a notification from Spotify: SpaceGhostPurrp's 'NASA Gang' tape, easily his best complete project, had been remastered and uploaded to the streaming service. The mix is cleaner and the samples are extended a bit on songs like 'For The Love Of Money.' It's basically an early SGP fan's wet dream.
SGP can't rely on old material moving forward, though. It's bittersweet to hear that 'NASA Gang' tape, knowing Purrp will probably never return to that sweet spot, as much as we might pray he does. Listening to Joey Purp is a much more uplifting experience. Where SGP drags and almost always falls face first, Joey Purp pushes through the track, always coming out on top of whatever beat he stares down.
Listen to Joey Purp's new stuff. It's becoming more focused and he hasn't lost a step. He's the kind of dude whose features you check for, knowing he might steal the show every time. Listen to SpaceGhostPurrp's old stuff. His flame has been extinguished, but his beasts still bump, and if he gets back with Rocky, they could make some crazy music. Don't let his current slump deter you from spinning the insane cave music he made years ago.